Francesco Vitale, Biodeconstruction: Jacques Derrida and the Life Sciences is reviewed at NDPR by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. The book appeared earlier this year with SUNY Press, translated by Mauro Senatore.
The first chapter of the book is available to download here.
Here’s the first paragraph of the review:
Francesco Vitale has written a remarkable book. It rests on an extended analysis of the largely unpublished seminar La vie la mort that Jacques Derrida gave in the winter of 1975-76. The rumor is widespread that Derrida was more or less agnostic about the scientific developments of his time. This book tells us otherwise. Apparently, Derrida had a deep interest in the development of the life sciences, beginning with the physiological underpinnings of Freud’s fin de siècle meta-psychological writings up to mid-twentieth century molecular biology, and including the evolution of humankind. One has only to recall the importance of paleontologist André Leroi-Gourhan’s Gesture and Speech, published in two volumes in 1964-65, for establishing the outlines of Derrida’s Grammatology. And the greater part of his seminar La vie la mort is devoted to a close reading of François Jacob’s La logique du vivant. This book on the history of heredity that the 1965 Nobel Prize winner in physiology or medicine published five years later received almost unanimous praise both as a scientific and a literary event from the Parisian intelligentsia of the time, including Georges Canguilhem, himself a teacher of Derrida, and Michel Foucault.